I used to be a big Cherry Healey fan; I thought she was intelligent, witty and focused on issues that I was interested in. A lot of respect got pissed up the wall when watching her shambles of a programme about body image and weight – watching her complain about how fat she was whilst treating any girl bigger than a size 12 as a social pariah will do that to you to be honest. Her latest offering – like a virgin – has convinced any remaining feelings of respect or admiration to completely fuck off though.
She approaches it full on, like a sledgehammer to the forehead. There is no consideration or compassion here. Cherry talks about sex in an open and easy manner which is commendable to an extent; creating such an aura of mystery and keeping it as taboo is probably one of the reasons we have such a fucked up attitude to sex in this country. We refuse to talk about it, treat it as something dirty or secret and then provide reams of pornography to confuse and really mess with the heads of our vulnerable teens. I truly believe the sex education in schools needs to be overhauled but that’s an issue for another post.
Getting back to Cherry. I felt cheap just watching the programme. She implies that girls just need to get over the idea of romance and get sex ‘over and done with’ so they can ‘move on’. She talks to people about their one night stands and reminisces about a night she spent under a boat with a stranger where she may or may not have lost her virginity. She was so drunk you see that she just ‘can’t remember if she did or not.’ She watches a young girl get a bikini wax and follows her to Lanzarote to watch her be groped and felt up by all manner of scumbags before chatting about how hilarious it was that she gave a stranger a blowjob the night before. This isn’t educating us about sex or making it a less taboo subject. It is fucked up and promotes the idea of promiscuity and sex without emotion; something we have too much off already thanks. She mimics vomiting when a girl talks about wanting her first time to be romantic with clean bedding and candles. Cherry makes her one night stands sound glamorous and laughs her way through a pretty worrying chat with some boys – one of whom says that girls don’t come back to his filthy hovel for emotion – just sex. As if the two are so easily separated. They clearly don’t have a conversation with him first either as five minutes in his company would be enough to put anyone off.
The saddest story is that of a girl who had sex in a car in a park and who realised that her sparring partner probably had a girlfriend as they ‘never went to his place’ – just carparks and friends’ houses. Cherry again just laughs this off. The guy in question was ten years older than the teenager in question but lets gloss over the statutory rape-ness of the whole shady incident and make it into something glossy and glamorous for tv yeah? The whole programme seems tragic to me. People using bravado to hide the fact that they are confused and a bit shamed. Getting drunk on a foreign holiday and ending up naked next to a man you don’t remember hardly sounds like a dream scenario to me but it’s hilarious to Cherry. Now, to be clear, I’m not knocking one night stands. Sex should be any way you want it. It’s your body; know it and own it. What pisses me off here is that none of these people seemed happy about their actions or their first times. They seemed sad and resigned. A one night stand is great if both ( or all, not judging) parties are up for it and know what they are getting into. When you have young people who are confused and fighting conflicting messages from media, their peers and their own insecurities though, it becomes a murkier idea. Why can’t we talk to young couples who have chosen to wait or who decided, together, to take the next step into sex? Why can’t we see teenagers who were ready and completely on board with their decisions as opposed to those who got pissed and woke up sore and de flowered without knowing the who, what and whys?
Sure, sex can be shit and painful and your first time isn’t often something to write home about but why not have a range of people share their stories? Include a few who knew the names of their partners for instance? Is that too radical? I hate how Cherry’s programmes promote her agenda only. She has a viewpoint and seems to only find people to support that rather than challenge her. We have been bombarded with sex education programmes recently; some aimed at promoting a healthy sex life with a healthy attitude and others that seem more gratuitous but this is just awful. I felt sad for most of the people involved; from the boy who lost his virginity at 12 but had no idea what a condom was to the girl who lost her v plates in the front seat of a Fiat Panda. The boys who tried to out do each other in terms of their sexual prowess but who probably don’t have a clue about how to please a woman to the excitable, puppy like teenage girl who needs a lesson in self respect not a bikini wax.